Price paid: $ 50
Sound — 10
The switches are highly interactive. When the Bass Switch is in the off position, the neck pup sounds regular (tone-on-10), but in the on position, it's a treble-dump (tone-on-1). The Treble On Switch cuts out a little bass from the bridge pup in the on position and sounds normal in the off position. When both switches are in the off position, it gives a nice humbucker-like sound where both pups are on and connected in series. When one Switch is on and the other is off, only the pup whose Switch is on is active, and when both are on there is no signal. Crazy. The Rhythm/Solo Switch cuts some highs and volume in the Rhythm setting and gives the full sound and volume (wherever the volume pots are set) in the Solo position. This Switch is really best used with a clean amp or a tube OD/distortion. All the settings are not only versatile, but totally useable. No B.S. here. The tremolo has a Bigsby-like range and operates like a Bigsby. Great for that subtle, sleepy vibrato.
Overall Impression — 9
I love this guitar. It fought me tooth and nail in the restoration process, but now that she works again it made it all worth it. The wiring scheme is the most versatile thing I've used, especially the Rhythm/Solo Switch. If you can find one of these on ebay or something in good shape, grab it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
As said before, this guitar is quite old and was not taken care of. Yet it still plays great. The vinyl covering means no worrying about dings and scratches. The trem system was engineered very thoroughly and still works just as it did new. There's a big problem with old Hofner pups, though, where sometimes they just quit working. Sadly I was not exempt from this. The bridge pup coil start and finish leads inside the pup had corroded beyond repair. The pup needs rewound, but I performed a coil transplant from a '60s Teisco Del Rey pup. The pup now works, though it has a Teisco coil in it. My only real gripes (other than the pup thing) are the vinyl covering has shrunk over the years and was very difficult to fix. The tuner ferrules are cheap stamped and formed sheet metal and have been dented out of shape a bit.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar plays very well, especially considering it's almost 50 years old and has spent the better part of its life in a shed. There is very little fret wear and the neck needed shimmed. The bridge height adjustment knobs are so rusted that they are frozen. I got one side to work but the other knob is stuck. This complicates things a bit (hence the neck shimming).
Features — 9
The Hofner 172 was first introduced in about 1961. Later (1963-1964 transition period) the controls and cotrol layout changed, as well as the trem style, tuners, and headstock finish, so they are referred to as 172(i) and 172(ii) to differentiate the two versions. There are several minute differences between some specimins of the model, even if they are from the same year or period. This particular model is the 172(i), made the 40th week of 1963 (pot code 403). I got it from a friend for only 50 bucks because it was in such horrible shape. It took me seven straight hours to clean the metal parts, frets, and re-oil the fretboard, and 4 hours to fix the covering and binding. - Body: Solid thinline (maple?) with a tremolo - Finish: Red 'alligater skin' vinyl, nitrocellulose lacquered neck - Neck: 1-piece maple, bolt-on - Fingerboard: Brazillian rosewood; pearloid double-Dot markers - Number of frets: 22 - Pickguard: single ply black plastic, white painted edge - Bridge: moveable flat-top style - Nut: plastic - Tuners: open, chrome teardrop - Pickups: two Hofner 510 Diamond single coils disguised as humbuckers; no mounting flange, they sit on the body and are hed on by the pickguard - Controls: volume for each pickup, Bass On Switch, Treble On Switch, Rhythm/Solo Switch - Scale length: 25.25"